Cloud Presses IT Pros to Show Value in New Ways

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The Impact of Cloud Computing

The primary driver for cloud computing adoption is shifting from costs to agility.

You gotta love the headline on the Federal Computer Week piece, "How cloud computing messes with your team." It covers an IDC report that looks at how the move to cloud offerings will affect the government IT work force. Lots of IT folks, not just in government, are worried about what the cloud will mean for their jobs.

"Government IT Workers Can Find a Valuable New Niche as Solutions Migrate to Cloud," (subscription required) says there will be plenty of work to go around for properly skilled IT workers, but the work will evolve. There will be less work in maintaining systems and the biggest threat to IT will be if department managers and users go directly to a third-party provider rather than working through a centralized IT department.


It's important that IT shows it provides value, the report says, and lists three ways it can do so:

  • by understanding the special needs of their agency and being able to select appropriate technologies to meet those requirements.
  • by becoming experts in the cloud service provider landscape, so they can guide their users as they weigh various options to meet their business needs.
  • as cloud services become the focal point for innovation, by helping agency colleagues sort through and capitalize on these new capabilities.


In a blog post, Shawn McCarthy, research director for the report, writes:

The second annual Cloud Leadership Forum (hosted by IDC and IDG Enterprise) in Santa Clara, CA, last week was a bit of an eye-opener when discussions touched on how current IT employees will fit into the rapidly evolving world of cloud computing.


The stark reality is that cloud migrations will have a very significant impact on many IT workers. But even as some jobs will go away, others will evolve in dynamic new ways. Multiple speakers at the event made it clear that many IT shops, including government IT facilities, will become less about systems operation and maintenance and more about operating as centers of information technology expertise for their organizations. Workers will take on evaluation and advisory roles, essentially becoming service brokers who are able to leverage their specific knowledge to help ask the right questions and judge details about the correct technologies for specific solutions. They also may be called upon to establish price points and effective platforms for those solutions.

Our Mike Vizard wrote about the new role of the enterprise IT person:

But even as the infrastructure and, in some cases entire applications, move into the cloud, somebody still needs to manage and integrate these services on behalf of the business. That person may not look like the classic enterprise IT person we know today. Instead, they will probably be a much more business-centric IT person. But whoever they are, the process of governing IT services in the cloud via various policies engines will still need to be done.

Vizard's advice to IT pros:

[They] should be positioning themselves to be the general contractors of a rich set of integrated services, as opposed to being seen as the people that maintain a whole lot of underutilized hardware and software that the rest of the business views as a fixed asset that needs to be eliminated.

And my colleague Ann All wrote that for managers, it's important to keep fear at bay among the ranks by keeping staff in the loop as changes are occurring and discussing with them the possible impact on their jobs. She quotes Doug Pierce, global IT director for advertising and event marketing agency Momentum Worldwide, where nearly a third of IT staffers' jobs changed as it moved some services to the cloud, saying:

We let them know that, hey, we're going into new technologies that are at the forefront of innovation and you're going to be right there with us, so they're very excited. We took the time to explain the vision and rallying the troops around it.

Among the new opportunities the cloud brought for IT staff: custom application work to complement and customize cloud solutions.